Sunday, July 28, 2013

Why's It Gotta Be Sharks?

SyFy ran Sharknado, yet again, last night, along with a whole day of previous SyFy movies featuring sharks as the villains.  Such fishy creatures as the two-headed shark, prehistoric shark, sand shark, dino-shark, and my personal favorite for sheer silliness - octoshark, threatened us through our screens all day yesterday.

Like a mesmerized loon, I watched some of the movies while I was home yesterday.  Actually, Sharknado on the third viewing put me to sleep.  I snored through the climax when the enormous shark (looked like a Great White on steroids) dropped out of a tornado and swallowed first the heroine and then the hero - who fortunately had a chainsaw with him.  All he had to do was cut his way out and poof!  He was saved and so was the heroine.

And now they're advertising the annual Shark Week when a week's worth of programs are shown with real sharks and real gore.  What is it about sharks that fascinate us so?  I admit I DO NOT watch Shark Week, never have.  I'm an animal lover and don't care to watch any creature being eaten alive.  I didn't even watch the Disney nature films of the African Veldt when I was a small child.  I know that happens, but I don't have to watch it.

I do sit back and wonder at our society's obsession with sharks.  SyFy posts some of its' highest ratings when they run their goofy shark movies.  As case in point, Sharknado got huge ratings, that's why they've run it three times.

The movies are fun in a twisted way.  Done with the tongue planted firmly in the cheek, they are part of the grand tradition that includes the old monster movies, irradiated villainous creatures stomping Tokyo or whatever city happens to be there when they come ashore, and let's not forget the great Bruce Campbell.

These movies are pure escapist fun, easy to watch, easy to watch while doing something else, too...Everybody gets it - it's not reality.

But the obsession with sharks is rooted deeply in reality.  I remember a line from the movie JAWS, uttered by Murray Hamilton as the Amity mayor.  "When you yell barracuda, people say what?  But when you yell shark..."  That's true.  People are terrified of sharks yet fascinated with them at the same time.

I remember many years ago when I was a young girl (yes I was young once...)  I saw a woman pulled out of the water in Miami Beach.  Her legs were sliced to ribbons.  That's something you never forget seeing.  In her case, she had the misfortune to have been swimming through a school of barracuda.  From then on I have had a healthy respect for the little sharp toothed creatures.  They're bigger than piranha, not as aggressive, but can be if disturbed.

But the media doesn't report barracuda attacks.  Of course there may not be many of them.  But they always report shark attacks.  In the city in which I live, attacks are reported, fishermen catching sharks are reported, and marine biologists have been catching great whites off our shores and putting radio tags on them for tracking purposes.  When they get a live signal in the area, it is broadcast through the internet and the local news media and beaches are closed for swimming.

I guess we as humans have a healthy respect for such an efficient predator.  After all, we want to think we're at the top of the food chain...sharks don't respect that at all.  How dare they?!  Easy, we're just another dining opportunity to them.

Perhaps we make light of the very real threat by indulging in these silly movies - minimizes the threat by making it comical.

Just think what the world would be like if everybody in Germany and around the world had laughed at Hitler...There would have been millions of people who lived out their lives.  We would have been a different world - not necessarily better, but certainly different.

There isn't anything wrong with laughing at what scares us.  It eases the tension in our daily lives.
Laughter is good for our physical health as well as our soul.

Okay, I get it.  I'll quit ragging on the shark movies...after all, we ALL need a good laugh and escape now and then.

Until next time, enjoy whatever makes you laugh - laugh heartily and long.  You'll feel better.
But don't swim where sharks have been reported - and get out of the water if you see a fin...the consequences of staying in the water and laughing would not be at all amusing.

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